A Gallup poll whose statistics were released yesterday stated that out of 189 U.S. metropolitan areas which Gallup surveyed in 2012, it was found that in Provo, Utah, 77% of its residents were classified as very religious. In my City of Albany – 26%.
Well, on the bright side, if this was the third century, we Albanians would probably out live them due to the “high cost of holiness.”
Back in those “biblical times” it was required of Christians to ritually purify themselves in the ritual baths either before they participated in any holy activity or after they did their, uhm, “Christian-duty.”
Their latrine area was secluded plot about 700 yards from the baths where they would dig shallow holes, squat, then cover over their deposits. They would then go down to the baths to clean themselves. Cleanliness is next to Godliness.
Archeologists have performed soil samples of the bath areas and found high concentrations of intestinal parasite eggs such as whip, round and tape worm. The area was a toxic waste dump of disease. The Christians would get this matter on their hands and feet, then walk back to the pools to cleanse themselves but in actuality were sharing their germs with hundreds of other people which would get in their eyes, mouth, nose and cuts by bathing in this soup. Each Christian was literally a walking time bomb.
Leprosy was a catch-all term for a multitude of skin diseases and infections such as Tzoraas and various rashes born from infection which were unknowingly caused by bathing in germ infested water. Back then, a simple cut could kill you.
Christians were more concerned about privacy and cleanliness while the Romans were less concerned with privacy and humility, and more concerned with efficiency. The Romans had no problem with men, women and children “raising robes” (dropping trou) in front of one another while that act was seen as sinful to the Christians. Here are a few pictures of the toilet area in Bet She’an where the person performing the act of voiding would sit with one cheek on each rock in full and open public display while a channel of water beneath them carried away whatever was deposited. This was as natural and normal to the Romans back then as people sitting on a park bench having a conversation about the weather today.
While the Christians were concerned with spiritual health with a focus on healing from their physical ailments, the Romans were concerned with keeping their cities clean and keeping out the Christians who seemed to be plagued with copious amounts of disease. The Christian, yearning for holiness and healing was the cause of their own plight. A vicious circle and downward spiral.
This was at a time when knowledge of germs and infection was practically nothing. Remember, a “doctor” during this time was predominately anyone who owned sharp tools such as barbers, butchers and people like Jesus – carpenters. If you needed something removed or cut off, these were the people you went to see. It was either them or people who who performed magic spells. There were a lot of people who were using plants, rocks and mud for healing, too. These were often charismatic healers who would send those with inflictions to bathe in water where unknowingly, germs didn’t survive or fester such as in moving water or – water with a high concentration of salt and minerals where nothing could survive, such as the Dead Sea. Even today, thousands of people flock there for healing in the higher than normal oxygen levels, filtered sunlight and purifying water.
Jesus was on to something. No to diminish his healing power, but a lot of what he did and prescribed back then has medical efficacy today. And, it was not beneath him to make referrals. When the ten “lepers” approached him, he sent them to see the priest. Priests at that time saw so many people who were seeking to be healed that they become experts at diagnosing rashes, infections and other diseases such as true leprosy.